12th July 2017 – Blackcomb Hiking Trails

There’s been a hiccup with the pay checks, so I’m trying to save a bit of cash on my days off while still doing something with them.  Weather’s a bit miserable so the lake is out, but it’s perfect weather to try some hiking.  Maggie is also looking for a hiking buddy, so we both set off around 11 to head up to Blackcomb and try our luck on some of the trails.  I spent the morning looking at the Summer maps, and figured we’d take the shuttle bus to the Seventh Heaven chair lift, and walk along the Treeline Trail since it shuts in a week, then hop onto either the Overland or Lakeside loop, take whatever one we don’t take first back, then walk along the rest of the Overland and hop onto half of the Alpine Trail to make it back to the Rendezvous.  It shouldn’t take more than 3 hours, and all the trails are easy or intermediate, perfect for those of us who aren’t the best hikers or even all that fit.

When we get to Seventh Heaven, we decide to hop up to the summit since Maggie hasn’t been there yet.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best luck – mist creeps in and the glacier is completely invisible.  We can at least see the other side of the mountain, and got to enjoy some extremely sweet hot chocolate before we start our hike.

The Treeline Trail is a relatively steep but short trail that leads up to an intersection of other trails.  Most on Blackcomb are relatively easy – listed as Intermediate but so long as you have good shoes and a modicum of decent health you’ll be fine.  Our biggest issue is just keeping the air in our lungs considering we’re high up, and our legs are stiff from the cold.

P1110474

When we make it up to the trails, we have the option of Lake or Overland, and Maggie recommends the Lake since it’s likely uphill and means we can do most of the way back downhill.  It’s about 20 minutes to the lake, but we’re so high up the snow is still on the ground.  Can’t even really see the lake because it’s still iced over with snow on top.  Still we have a good shot at it…and I go crashing into the snow when I underestimate how deep it is when I double back.

P1110501

Since we can’t see much, we follow through the loop, and hit the far more defrosted sections, which are just stunning.  It’s full of small streams and lush undergrowth, as well as the odd marmot sunning themselves on the rocks.

P1110542

Maggie was right about the uphill/downhill though, because most of the way is flat, with the odd hill, making it a relatively easy hike.  Get onto the Overland loop and head back towards Rendezvous.  Takes about 30 minutes to hop onto the Alpine loop, the easiest track on the mountain – it’s a gravel path so it’s easy even without the right footwear – and fifteen minutes later make it back to the Rendezvous.  Maggie has to head to the Post Office so we need to get back down before 5pm.  Made it for just after 4pm.

P1110555

When I get back, I also get the schedule for next week, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag.  I’ve gotten two shifts for Thai, but I’m also on call for Monday, and only 3 days where I’m on at 9:30, so it’s a significant drop in hours.  Hoping it’s not a regular occurrence considering how much trouble I’m having with wages as is.

Posted in Canada, Diary, Whistler | Tagged , | Leave a comment

10th July 2017 – The Dead Day

I didn’t have to wear the restraint, but my hand hurt for the next 72 hours and I decided not to take the job as it was too much of a risk to my wrist.  I did however send someone else I know their way, because they liked the sound of the job, so it hopefully all worked out.

Today was the slowest day we’d had since I started.  If I served more than 20 customers in the 6 hours we were open I’d be very surprised.  Ended up spending the afternoon doing tons of prep, to the point that nobody needed to come in the next morning to get anything ready – we were good for days.

This was mostly due to the weather.  It’s a foggy white out that’s semi-raining outside, and not even the most enthusiastic hiker is going to be out in it today.  Even the grill, normally a constant non-stop queue is quiet today.

I do however take this opportunity to ask my bosses about cross training.  They mentioned it would likely happen so we could throw people wherever a space was open, but wanted people to get used to their main station first.  However, after nearly a month I’m comfortable on Mexican (there is admittedly stuff I still have to learn perfectly, but the service part I’m on top of), so I start questioning whether I can start leaning other stations.

They agree, and promise to add a few different shifts to my schedule.  This is a mixed bag since they plan to put me on Thai, which closes even earlier than we do and as such means I’ll be having to find cleaning work to do in order to get my full hours, but I do that for Mexican anyway, just 30 minutes later, so it’s hardly that much of a stretch to fix.  I do hope the weather improves soon though – it’s not like this rain is going to help the campfire ban (the ground’s so dry it would need a month of rain before it was lifted) so can we get the blinding sun back please?

Posted in Canada, Diary, Whistler | Tagged , | Leave a comment

6th July 2017 – Cows Ice Cream

Got quite the surprise the day before when I was getting up.  I’d sent my CV to Cows Ice Cream last week and had an interview, but they’d been less enthused when one of the MUST WORK weekends was the weekend of the Vancouver Anime Convention I refuse to miss.  Figured they wouldn’t want me, only to get a call asking if I could do a trial shift after work tomorrow.  Can’t see the harm, so will be heading into the village after a day working on the Mexican Stand.

Unfortunately, this means it’s going to be a long day.  I’m starting to realise that going biking on my second day off was a mistake – mountain biking has WRECKED my body, my whole upper body hurts and my legs aren’t much better.  I’m praying for a quiet day to wince around in peace.  No such luck, but it does at least not get overwhelmingly busy.

That said, the highlight of my day was the cheapskate customer that drove me to the limits of my customer service smile.  It was a family of three, who clearly wanted to get the 3 tacos and the taco salad for the price of the salad.  First, they tried to get 3 taco shells with their salad (we sometimes give a person one, but not 3), and did eventually talk me into giving them 2 (just would not move with the debating going on), and then managed to hold the line up by nearly ten minutes by going into a debate with EVERY. SINGLE. TOPPING.

The Mexican stand has a lot of options.  The salad comes with lettuce, a choice of two types of beans, a choice of roasted peppers, a choice of one of 4 proteins, and then a choice of 9 toppings plus an optional add on.  Normally people can pick in a matter of seconds, but since this family had to feed 3 people from the one bowl, every option required a discussion for a few minutes.  ‘Do you like that?  Maybe get it on the side?  We should get more of that?  Can we get the optional on the bowl and then cover it with additional stuff so we don’t have to pay for it?’  It was never ending.  When they left they had 2 cold taco shells, a piled high salad, and about 5 cups of things they wanted ‘on the side.’  When they finally left, a guy in the line insisted I serve him next (despite my co-worker being ready to serve him) because he had an ‘uncomplicated burrito order’ and ‘that was painful to watch.’  Ended up telling me just to make what I considered the perfect burrito – and I really wanted to make it perfect for him.

So naturally it’s the ONE burrito I make this week that bursts just as I start wrapping it.  Double wrap and give it to him.  Thankfully he’s still very good natured about it.

Between the pain and that interaction, all I wanted to do was go home, but still got a trial shift to worry about.  When we close, I stay till 5 helping the other sections to clean up, and then hop down into the village towards the Green Gables chocolate shop.  I’m working under a woman called Elisa for the next 4 hours.

At least, I’m supposed to be.  She’s gone on break and nobody in the store was expecting me.  End up washing dishes for the first 20 minutes until they figure out what to do with me.  When Elisa does show up, she takes me to the other shop on the opposite side of the bridge to get a t-shirt, and then starts showing me how to work the line.

It’s relatively simple.  Most of the job is scooping ice cream, and for me there’s a scale on the back line to make sure I’m making the scoops the right weight.  When I’ve done enough of them, I’m also shown how to make a milkshake, and a raspberry cordial float.  The biggest problem is when someone wants a flavour that’s almost empty – the ice cream is so hard it takes considerable effort to get enough into the scoop to make a single cone.

The effort involved also has an unexpected side effect.  My wrist starts to throb, in that way I have learned to loathe.  My torn tendons are getting aggravated, and that never ends well.  After 4 hours of scooping and 30 minutes of cleaning, I promise to think about coming on for good, but my hand will be the deciding factor.  If I wake up tomorrow and have to put that restraint on AGAIN, this job isn’t going to be an option.

 

Posted in Canada, Diary, Whistler | Tagged , | Leave a comment

5th July 2017 – Bike Park

As a member of Whistler Blackcomb, I get a discount on bike rentals.  It’s 25% until 11am, and then 50% onwards.  The biggest risk is if you wait until 11, most of the bikes might be gone – as what happened yesterday.

Thankfully, today there’s still a few bikes in my size left, and I manage to get the bike for a half day, with guards and insurance for $99.  I also discover the singles line at the bike park, so I don’t need to go through the huge line waiting for the chairlift.  Does mean I have to learn how to lift the bike onto the hook on the edge of the lift, but thankfully the lifters help when it’s clear I’m having trouble.

Immediately hit Easy Does It, and problems become obvious in a matter of seconds.  I can’t figure out what’s wrong, but I can’t control myself on the turns and I keep falling out of position.  I try and shake it off and go again, but it keeps happening – several times I skid to a stop and struggle not to crash.

By the time I’m dragging the bike back to the shop so I can have a break, I’m a little depressed.  There’s none of the fun I had on the lesson, and I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong…until I remember I was wearing my hiking boots and wearing my keens now.  As much as I love these shoes, they’re probably causing my feet to slip on the pedals.  I’ve also taken a bag so I could carry water as well as a jacket, and that means there’s a weight on my back, which means it’s pulling me out of the bent over position since I’m not used to it.

To counter it, I head home for lunch, dump the bag (there’s no need for a jacket and I’ll use the water fountain at the chairlift) and change my shoes so I can have another shot at it.

Amazing, two small changes and I’m back to speeding down the trail with…well not skill but a lot less struggle than I’d been having.  Everything I’d loved about the first lesson came back, and I managed two more laps before I had to stop or risk losing all feeling in my hands.  They’re not used to such heavy use and I was already having to stop to try and get feeling back into them midway down the track.  Will probably skip the trails next week, but definitely do it again sometime.  Apparently, it’s even cheaper if you book after 3:30, so maybe if I get out of work early I can do it then.

In the evening, I’m heading back into town to do something I’ve been wanting to try for a while.  The Whistler Escape Rooms.  Maggie and Maddy both wanted to give it a shot, so at 7pm we were walking in to try their beginner room, Pirate Ship (apparently a common theme in Canada).

Can’t say much about it for the sake of keeping the secrets, but we didn’t do half bad considering we only had 45 minutes instead of the hour I’m used to.  Our biggest issue was getting hung up on one clue when it turned out we didn’t have nearly enough to solve it and needed to open a few other boxes beforehand.  We ended up needing an extension of time to finish it, but only about 3 minutes in order to complete the last few puzzles, so it was still a victory!

19959077_1443047692427138_9181308084631387425_n

We’ve already decided we’re going to try the next difficulty on Tuesday.  Know at least one other person who wants to do it, so maybe we’ll get to a full house for Buried Cabin.

Posted in Canada, Diary, Whistler | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

4th July 2017 – Lost Lake

Today starts with some bad news.  Despite getting some socialising and work hours, Rhonda is still really homesick, so she’s decided to head home.  Today is her last shift, and tomorrow she hops on a plane back to Australia.  We’ll miss her, although won’t deny having the extra space in this small flat will be helpful

Had a day off, and it’s still crazy hot, so figure I’ll either go biking, or go swimming.  Biking wins out, so head down to the rental shop to try my luck.

Turns out every guest in Whistler had the same idea.  They’re booked solid of the small Sanction, so biking isn’t going to be an option today.  Figure I’ll try tomorrow, and instead go home to change for Lost Lake.

Much like the biking, the weather has drawn everyone outside.  The lake is busy, but thankfully not so much.  My biggest worry is my bag and where I leave it – end up leaving it with another person’s shoes and gear so there’s double eyes and jump right in.

First the water is cold, but once you submerge it does not take long to acclimatise.  Water is relatively clear too, so despite not having goggles swimming underwater is not a chore.  That said, it’s so busy I stay above once I’m too deep to walk on the ground, and swim out to the pontoon.  Get to dive, pull in the floating pontoon for other people, and then swim back to shore.

19787230_10211084899133076_1410482515314133934_o

Lost Lake is fantastic in this weather.  I love freshwater swimming and with the depth and the pontoons you can have a great time.  I just wish I managed to wrangle some other people to come with so I don’t have to over panic about my stuff on shore.

Go in two more times before my skin starts to prickle, suggesting my sunscreen isn’t as waterproof as it promises, and decide to head back.

Tomorrow I’m going to try my luck at biking again – really want to get some more practice in.

Posted in Canada, Diary, Whistler | Tagged , | Leave a comment

2nd July 2017 – Whistler Fire

Today I’m in on prep, and it’s my first time making the corn salsa.  Unlike the tomato salsa, it’s a bit complicated.  There’s 3 times as many ingredients, and it’s a bit of a rush to get it done in time.

This is the first week I’ve been on consistently, and I’m starting to struggle.  I’ve been so focused on keeping salsa stacked, that I haven’t paid attention to the other toppings.  I need the help of some of the backline to stay on top of everything.

We’re a little busier than yesterday.  Since all the events were yesterday, a lot of people are coming to Blackcomb today.  Thanks to this, come 3:30 we can’t close because we still have a queue.  At 4:00 we have to get a supervisor to shut the line down or we’d never get out.

Normally, by 5pm the restaurant is pretty empty with people heading down the chairlift.  However, we’re still packed, and there’s an announcement overheard urging guests to head to the Peak to Peak.  We learn the reason pretty early on – there’s a fire on Blackcomb Mountain.  Not all that close to us, but close enough that if the wind shifts the chairlift will be dangerous, so everyone is being evacuated via the Peak to Peak to Whistler.  We’re in the same boat, but since the queue is so long, all the employees just hang around the café bar until we’re the last ones on the mountain.  The best part is knowing that if we sign in at Roundhouse, we get paid for the additional time, which is a nice bonus.

It all seems like a big fuss over nothing, since we can barely see any smoke from the Rendezvous.  Ten minutes later though, we’re on the Peak to Peak, and watching the mountain in shock.  What was a tiny plume is now quite significant.

P1110406

Another surprise is that although most of our gondola is staff, we have a few guests, one of which is in fact famous – Dennis Quaid.

Course, most of us don’t realise until too late.  One guy in the gondola realises it and gets a photo with him, but then we land and separate, so that was my biggest brush with fame.

Fire Line

When we get to the Roundhouse, the queue for the gondola is still long since it has to deal with Whistler and Blackcomb’s evacuation.  Once we get checked out though, we get shown a shortcut where we can slip past the queue and hop down without having to wait.

P1110425

When we get down, most of Whistler is watching the battle to douse the flames.  I manage to get a great spot at the bottom of Staff Hill where I watch one of the planes dump the red chemicals onto the flames.  The sky is full of drones and water carrying choppers and planes, and it goes on until the late night.  Come morning, the sky is even full of mist from the excess water.  Lesson well learned about fire hazards.

Posted in Canada, Diary, Whistler | Tagged , | Leave a comment

1st July 2017 – Happy Canada Day

P1110396

Happy Canada Day!

Yep, 3 days before America’s Independence Day is Canada’s own national holiday.  There’s music, parades and possibly fireworks happening all day.

Of course, I’m not going to see most of it, as I’m working on Blackcomb for most of it.  Despite it being a holiday weekend, we’re not expecting to be very busy as there’s no events up here.  The Roundhouse has the Vancouver Orchestra playing in the afternoon, so they’ll get the traffic.

Today I’m on with Eli, who’s only done Mexican a few times, but is trained as some kind of prep cook so is more than aware of what to do.  I’m grateful cause it means I can ignore the grill in exchange for creating burritos and tacos.

Oddly enough, despite being dead most of the day, we still end up getting a whole day before getting to head down and check out the village.  I could go check out the orchestra that’s playing at Olympic Village, but I choose to head on back to my flat to get changed and meet up with a few people at Merlin’s Bar, and then head up Staff Hill for the fireworks at 10:30.

However, even though we’re all in place, there are no fireworks to be had.  Turns out later that the fireworks were cancelled due to a fire risk.  Kind of disappointed, but come tomorrow, it turns out to be a very valid concern…

Posted in Canada, Diary, Whistler, Working Holiday Club | Tagged , | Leave a comment